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Tool and mould shop improves efficiency with better tool storage


It’s prudent wisdom not to put all your eggs in one basket. When it came to optimizing shop-floor efficiency through better tool storage, however, one Windsor, Ontario based manufacturer found that keeping all its tools organized and in one place was the ideal approach.

"It’s not enough to have the best equipment and staff possible. We need to make sure that every element performs at its optimum level." says John Novosel, Jr. of Nova Tool and Mold. "If we don’t produce the finest moulds, production tooling and prototypes for our clients, then our business is over."

To stay on top of its business, Nova reexamined its tooling storage system as a way of maximizing efficiency. "In the past, our storage was a random system of steel cabinets placed throughout the facility," says Novosel. "Tools were either easily misplaced, causing delays in production, or lost, causing cost increases."

It was time for Nova to revamp its storage. Windsor Factory Supply, Nova’s local distributor, suggested it consider a storage system that would be easily accessible to the team on the manufacturing floor, suitable for both small, light parts and large heavy parts and equipment, as well as being modular to accommodate growth.

Lista International of Boston was chosen to develop a room-sized tool crib on the 22,000 square foot manufacturing floor. The majority of the tool crib is comprised of three storage wall systems. The system helps optimize the space by housing both small and large parts at the same time, as well as being a customizable system of configurable drawers, roll-out trays and adjustable shelves.

The drawers of the system hold a variety of parts, including carbide tips, drills, reamers, taps and all major mould components such as ejector pins, guide pins and bushings. The drawers range from 2-1/8 inch to 15 inches in heights in a variety of depths. Each drawer can be divided with partitions to create organized compartments.
Nova and Lista also outfitted the storage systems with roller shelves, providing workers with easy access to heavy items, including different sized sine plates, dies, moulds and magnetic chucks. Constructed with standard conveyor rollers, the shelf allows items to glide easily on and off the shelf.

The shelves of the storage system can also store boxed items such as light bulbs, tapping fluid, spray lubricants and paint containers. "The fact that we can hold from the smallest, lightest part to the heaviest tool to the most general of our maintenance suppliers is extraordinary," says Novosel.

Another feature of the tool crib is the six foot long workbench, which the tool crib attendant can use as a workstation. It is outfitted with a maple top and heavy duty legs, letting the attendant do paperwork, use the computer or talk on the phone.

Nova uses the modular drawer storage cabinets to store all paperwork, records and catalogs related to the tool crib. The drawer cabinet is designed to provide high-density storage for maximum organization and access. It also has front-to-back file drawer inserts that can hold either letter-sized or legal-sized files. "As important as the organization of the tools and parts is," says Novosel, "it is equally important that all paper work and files related to the crib are organized and easily accessible."

The new tool crib is also an important part Nova’s shipping and receiving system. The attendant confirms the order and enters parts into the inventory, and Nova can now track tools at all times.

"As Nova Tool & Mold grows, we will not have to worry about losing control of our inventory," says Novosel. "The system has completely organized and streamlined our operation. We have ensured that we will be able to maintain our competitiveness in the industry."


Alison Dunn is the assistant editor of PEM. She prepared this article with files from Gray & Rice Public Relations in Boston, Massachusetts.